We’ve all heard it before – cracking your knuckles causes arthritis in your hands. You probably grew up with someone yelling at you each time you snap, crackled and popped a finger or two, but does it really have long-term damage on the joints? As far as the evidence is concerned – no, popping your knuckles does not cause arthritis.
The popping noise you hear this thought to be caused by little bubbles of what’s called synovial fluid that helps lubricate your joints. When you pull your bones apart by stretching or bending them backwards, you create negative pressure and a pop. The snapping sound can be the tendons snapping over the tissues because of an adjustment in position. Many people tend to see and hear more popping in their joints as they age.
The general rule of thumb is that if your joints are popping painlessly, then you have nothing to worry about, but the popping can still cause damage. It’s good to note that continuous repetitive motions of any kind can cause pain over time. Just like carpal tunnel can be caused by consistent typing or texting, popping your knuckles and cracking your joints cause leave the body with some trauma that might lead to pain down the line. It might not lead you directly to arthritis, but there is still a possibility you could develop an issues in the long-term.
The big question comes when there is some pain when popping. The pain could be caused by a number of underlying abnormalities in the joint, like loose cartilage or an injury in the ligament. Swollen tissue due to arthritis, bursitis, or tendinitis can cause cracking sounds too.
Talk to your physician or physical therapist if you’re experiencing pain when your joints pop. They will be able to take a closer look and tell you what exactly is going on and come up with a plan to treat it accordingly.
Is Cracking Your Knuckles Bad For Your Joints?